A final reflective evaluation about the process of bringing the book/project together.
This project has been challenging because of the way in which I have had to work in collaboration with participants. It was a new concept for me to understand, especially when I realised that I would not have as much control over the photographic outcome as I usually have.
There have been plenty of highs and lows throughout the project that have influenced my final outcome. I have tried to be considerate of my participant’s wishes throughout the project because of the participatory nature which meant it wasn’t all just my own ideas and influences however I did find this particularly hard at points because I had a significant lack of control.
Bringing the book together was quite a hard process for me because of loosing communication with my subject at a point that was quite critical for the development of the narrative. I was at first finding it quite difficult too when I was told I could not use a specific image or I needed to change something in the design and I think I found this hard because normally I have the control over this process and can use images I like in orders I want, whereas with this project I had to consider what my participants wanted to include or not include.
Having reflected on the process it is easy for me to see that certain parts of the project were easier for me and more enjoyable whereas some were more of a struggle. I managed to get a story fairly easily that I could write up, but getting photographs to accompany this was quite a big struggle because of the communication issues I had with my subjects.
Having completed the entire project over email and no other form of communication, this in itself was very interesting and at times frustrating. It is a process I have never had to go through before and actually one that I have now discovered is quite difficult because trying to convey what you would like to a subject can often be misinterpreted or not understood, whereas a phone or Skype call or a meeting face to face can iron out these issues. Despite this, I did manage to get the information and photographs I needed after a while to convey their narrative successfully to some extent. I do feel there is a great deal more that could be expanded on in regards to this project, however this is dependant so much on how much of their story my participants would want to share with me about their life because a lot of it is quite personal. I feel I was lucky to get the information I did get from the project, despite not being able to talk to or see my subjects in person or take my own images.
I found that once my subjects understood what I wanted from them, I was able to get all the information that I needed so designing the book was much less tasking. I really enjoyed creating the layout and working out where the photographs and text would sit within the pages, despite it being a bit disheartening when certain things weren’t liked by my participants, but I am aware this is necessary to the process and does give me a more well rounded view to work in a collaborative manner as I understand there are going to be things like this that need to be changed and worked on.
My favourite part of the whole project was seeing it all come together in it’s physical book format. I really loved being able to gets hands on with the book and see how it looked not just on a screen. It was a fantastic experience because I felt that it brought the whole project alive and enabled me to contribute something to the project where I felt I hadn’t been as none of the images or text were my own. I understand as the facilitator of this project, I didn’t have to play such an active role in the creation of images and wording, but it did feel good to be able to contribute to the final outcome by making their book into a functioning physical book and helping to direct the direction of their story to some extent.
Despite having highs and lows, I think the project has actually encouraged me to look more deeply at migration and the reasons that people might migrate and what their actual stories are, not just what is seen in the media. It has also been great to work in a different way to how I normally would by involving more people into the process and giving away some of my control. I think that it has made me question representation and how I go about showing people to a wider audience. Pulling the book together has made me really proud of the work I have produced and I am really happy with my final outcome. Despite a few hiccups, the project has actually been very enjoyable and I think the results show this.
Overall, I think the project has been very positive and has allowed me to explore photography and narrative construction on a different level. I am really happy with my final outcome and I think the book has come out really well. I created two books so that I could give one to my participants, Andrew and Lynn, which I hope they will love. I enjoyed exploring the parts of their lives they were willing to show me and think the overall project is very reflective of this. If I were to progress the project on further, I would want to go out to France and speak to them face to face and see how much more of their story they were willing to tell me so it could become a much fuller book and look at their lives. However, for the time being with the access I have ben granted to their lives, I am very thankful for. I feel the project has turned out really positively and I feel positive with what I have achieved and feel I have learnt so much about photography practice, collaboration and representation along the way that will help me to be more considerate in future projects.